City Limits

I was on a confused city limit highway in a rusty old red truck I borrowed from a dusty farmer driving in circles looking for my father. The thick metal body of the vehicle rattled as I shifted gears over the cheap asphalt, but all the parts were well built and she drove stiff and strong. The truck had gotten me through the barriers and obstacles that were in my way, but as I pulled around another off ramp to an underpass rest area, I was disheartened. There were no signs on how to get back the other way where my mom was waiting at the college to help me look for dad. Part of me didn’t want to go back, the roads there lead to dead ends into rivers and were more confusing footpaths. The only difference was that the roads there had art and spectacles around it where the highway I was on was utilitarian, streamlined and uncaring.

The off ramp lead me down to a strange parking lot. Several other cars were down there. Jeeps and BMWs and a Mercedes, modern and plastic and brittle. My old truck backfired and echoed with heavy gears around the underpass giving me looks from the middle aged layabouts and a couple energetic naive youth. I shifted down, pushing the handle so worn only the silver aluminum on the handle shown. I rolled my window down to ask one of them if there was a way to get back to the highway in the opposite direction, each I asked were friendly, they told me to follow the parking lot to the other ramp. I knew they were wrong, but I trusted them anyway. I knew deep down that I’d be going the same way I’ve been going.

I didn’t know if I was looking for dad anymore, or what I was looking for. I pushed the sluggish truck on , getting new power from each gear as the highway flew by around me. The cars of a generation speeding past me to whichever city we were on the limit of. The cars were driving themselves.

I thought maybe I could turn around if I got to the city and throttled up to overdrive. 

[BTS2] Love From Business

When I first met her, she was competitive, unflinching, dealing out hard truths. Such is the proper role of a prudent and influential investor.

We were adults, but I felt like a child when I saw the big building. Feko games was like a dream factory. Ever since I could wear a headset and dive into their fantasy worlds I was hooked. I didn’t need to play the game right, I just needed an open world full of places and people and monsters and magic. My character, just a small boy with a few tools in his backpack to face the trials of the world.

The three of us started a small game company with the idea that we could make something great, build something, and so we made a game and I was the creative guy where my two compatriots were the technical and visual sides of things. Time and money went into making the game. Little did we know that creating was the easy part, the hard part was seeing if people would buy it.

Trying and succeeding only in woeful sales, we decided we would bring ourselves to one of the big companies, Feko games. The massive building looked like glass waves frozen in time on a hill greener than the windows background. It’s glass and steel construction rose in three towers that seemed to undulate in the sunlight with curved modern design in the stout structures.

We stepped inside and it was like stepping into one of their games, the world changed. The main atrium of the visitors center was full of neon and in its dark suggestive use of space, screens and VR stations were everywhere with people plugged in and playing games. On the landings and balconies were stores and food vendors, it was a revival of the old way spaces were used, with a cyberpunk and yet utterly modern bend to it all. From retro to state of the art, they had everything in this mall/arcade. 

As the three of us entered, we had no words, we were awestruck.

An aide soon greeted us and lead us up to a glass elevator that looked over the expansive atmosphere. There were even people hanging from the ceiling in full immersion harnesses that glowed in purple and blue.

We were brought to a large table in an alcove that overlooked the atrium. We were handed refreshments and were told to wait for one of their investment representatives. The low thrumming of my heart pounded the giddy fear and excitement through my veins. How were they actually giving us amateurs a chance? Were we woefully out of our depth, or could we rise to this occasion?

I had had maybe two sips of tea, my compatriots to either side jabbered away about their excitement and I found myself at an uneasy loss for words. I felt like I should have something to say, that I ought to be the business version of myself who always knew what the prudent thing to say was, who knew how to keep a level head, but I was too damn excited and nervous that this giddy childless would be my downfall.

Soon a small woman in a very businesswomanly suit entered our alcove from the double doors at the far end. She held a slim tablet under her arm and her shimmering black hair motionlessly reflected the neons of the massive space beyond the railing.

“Hi how are you all.” She said, reaching across the table and shaking each of our hands.

When she shook mine, her gaze cut me down, It was as though I were an ant to her.

 

 

[BTS1] Brigdon

Grinding rails from the train up on the elevated tracks evaporated into the night’s traffic. Sparks spilled over the side of the riveted steel bridge and were lost in the pollution of neon signs, headlamps, and street vendor lanterns. As the blocks spun by, she could only think of the hours that she had spent in these twisted corridors. The days that had gone by in this alien landscape within the press of some ten million other people.

The lights in the train car flickered and she caught a glimpse of herself in the window. Getting older, the bags darkening under her eyes, tired eyes, eyes that no longer knew what to look for, no longer knew what signs would bring meaning back. Somewhere in the routines she had lost something. Something was left behind in taxes and faces and mistakes that kept coming back to haunt her in stabs and jolts. The cars buckled uneasily around the next bend.

“What am I doing?” She said to her blurred reflection in the window and then looked past to the cityscape. As the train came out over the river the lights and millions of people faded away and for a moment all that remained was the dark river of sloshing darkness under the bridge. It was a black void.

She turned away from the window and looked about the dingy train car, the green lights flickered over the graffiti stained walls and the shimmering silver bars and the plastic red seats. She was alone.

She wondered where real friends were, wondered why she felt so strange, like something was about to happen, but nothing ever changed, caught somewhere between the comfort and security of routine and just utter boredom with no good way out. Where was the adventure life was supposed to take her on? The strange anxiety of being trapped in the moment rose in her throat and she closed her eyes.

The train sped on as she slept. Carrying her away.

She woke up with a start at the lack of motion. The train wasn’t moving. In no time, her mind was racing.

“STOP, DON’T LEAVE!” she hollered at whomever was running the train. She looked around for someone who might tell her which station they were at, but there was nobody. She gathered up her bag and moved down the aisle to the doors. They opened as she approached.

Passing in a daze out from the green flickering room of graffiti. She found herself on the dark platform. She looked for someone else, but there were no people in the glow of the platform lamps. There was a light rain in the hush of thick foliage all around the station. There was no city, no people, nothing but the hum of the dingy lamp and the unused benches. Her heart sank. The train doors closed behind her. The train sped away.

She was left alone, utterly alone, clutching her bag against her chest in the patter of the light rain. She deflated, looking at the station name which read in flat black letters: “Brigdon”.  She had never heard of it.

She looked about for some kind of booth, an overhang to get out of the damp. But the platform had nothing, she pulled out her phone and saw it light up only to notify her that the battery was at a mere 4% at which point it promptly died. She was left staring at the dark drops of water on the dormant screen.

She cursed and, seeing no shelter on the platform, she made her way down the stairs at one end and took shelter under a tree with broad leaves. The rush of wind and rain made her shelter-tree shudder and drops fell on her no matter how close she pushed her back up to the bark. She looked around, for something to reveal where she should go, the only path angled from the station into the dark woods with no light whatsoever.

“Another train will be along at some point.” said a voice. “Not until morning I’m afraid”

She looked around  and then noticed, below her gaze at about waist height a small umbrella being held by a tiny person with a furry face like a fox.

Her eyes bugged when she saw the creature hold up the umbrella with a smile.

“If you want you can use my umbrella, I don’t mind getting a little wet.”

She tentatively grasped the tiny handle and held it over her head. Not taking her eyes from the small being.

“I was actually here to meet someone, but I guess she missed her train.” Said the little guy, looking downward and scrunched up his shoulders against the rain.

“W-who were you waiting for?”

“Oh, an old friend… Anyway, no sense in us both getting wet out here, my name is Lander.” he stuck out a small furry hand that emerged from the long sleeves of his coat. She shuffled the umbrella to her other hand with her bag and grasped Lander’s hand shaking it up and down, stultified by the strange little person.

“My name is…” She drew a blank. Panic arose in her. “I don’t remember my name”

“Seems like kind of an important thing to forget; you might be catching a fever.” Said Lander. “Come, if you need a place to stay, you can come stay with me, the next train isn’t until the sun comes up. It’s not safe to be out at night alone, especially in a rain storm.”

The panic that was within her came out as “If it’s all the same I think I should wait for the train on my own.”

“Suit yourself, you can keep the umbrella.”

And then without another word he turned and walked briskly away, producing a small flashlight from his coat and lighting the way down the path into the woods.

She watched him go and was soon left alone in the rain, the drops pattering off the small canvas of the small umbrella. A few moments went by before she turned and saw his little light bumbling down the path away from the small train platform. She was a city girl after all, she didn’t need help. The thought came upon her suddenly, but she soon soured to this small bit of pride and then hurried with her bag and tiny umbrella clumsily balanced after him.

As she ran, puddles splashed and the wind picked up with the rain falling harder and harder. Ahead of her down the path she could see the light bumbling on. As cold drops fell, they got in her eyes. Then there was a dump of water that fell from one of the broad leaves right before her. The splash hit the ground and rose up, covering her in water. She didn’t stop, but she failed to see the water congeal and rise up behind her.

She found herself running, and as she did, more splashes of water fell from the trees and rose up as watery blobs with shimmering tendril hands reaching out. She could see Lander when another splash fell between them. This time the puddle rose up in front of her and the watery blob appeared, eyeless reaching out towards her.

She screamed and nearly fell back, turning from this apparition only to see the five others behind her. She dropped the umbrella and soaking wet reached into her bag for her knife. She pulled it out in the darkness, flipping out the blade.

“Get away from me!” She yelled, but the blobs only continued sliding toward her. Panicking she brandished and slashed with her knife at them, but they only seemed to grow closer and bigger in the rain. She slashed at the closest one, but her hand only went through the monster and came out wet on the other side. They began to press against her and tried to drown her with their blobby bodies.

Before that could happen, a yellow light fell upon them and the watery monsters shrank away returning to simple puddles.

“Are you alright?” He called as he came up to her. “I told you this place is dangerous at night, you shouldn’t walk in the darkness.”

“You’ve got to be straight with me right now!” She said.

“What what, of course, I’m glad those pests didn’-

“No, you be clear with me RIGHT NOW…” She said, the rain and her tears mingling “Am I in a fucking fantasy story right now?”

 

 

 

Arrival

Glossy eyed he looks to the window where daylight spangles the green growth of leaves across the parking lot. The early morning birds mock him and he rolls over to go to sleep, waiting for relief from the troubles of his life, waiting for the right moment to hit the big time in a world where everyone else has done what’s already done.

The sunshine has been extolled, the games have been made, the thoughts already thunk, nothing remains for him. His hobbies remain as augmented jewels in his crown, the sweat on his forehead is for his garden alone and his misplaced dreams stalk the fields of his mind like whistling stone titans in the dark rain.

Were they dreams or expectations?

All the while a calm voice eternally tells him, too softly to surmount the churning wash of intricate internet data and jabbering movies and maddening music, and fear. It is too soft to hear until he quiets his mind, faces his feelings like a stalwart rock in the ocean surf. Only when he lets the ride play out can he hear her in his mind…

And he finds a kind of peace. A small kernel of what cannot be touched, cannot be beaten down, will not yield to the pounding waves, the moving birds, the thunk thoughts. Each day he finds it harder to find, each day the weeds grow taller and he forgets to make the journey to the place of purity where the titans never walked. And in clarity like a gong, his body relaxes and he gets out of bed and makes coffee.

Balcony

He looked out from the balcony of his apartment and drew from another cigarette. There was not much to look at at 2AM, each of the cars in the parking lot had frost on them, the streetlamp flickered between the two trees that looked like brooding gods, everyone else was asleep in the world except for the diligent ones, the insomniacs, and the drunks. At best he was two out of the three. The languid vapors of gin shivered like heatstroke in his head and the dizzying combination of nicotine sent him clutching against the railing for support, but he could not take his eyes off the night sky, even as the roller-coaster of sensation made his body feel as though it were on the undulating wave of some impending time on the far side of a blissful oblivion. What could be captivating in this world if not the night sky.

He could hear the music from the end credits of the third movie he had watched in a row wind on from the other side of the sliding glass door and he wondered if he was keeping his neighbors up. The chase scene and the dramatic death of the climax had only been a few moments ago, gunshots and yelling and emotion that had captivated him so thoroughly the rest of the world ceased to exist and there was only the world of dreams and possibility that film brought to him. He wondered if that kept anyone up, that the music now might be calm and soothing. After the end of movies the real world comes rushing back in so fast, and the thoughts of neighbors and the wasted day pinged against the walls of his meandering mind.

The details of it all, of life and everything returned like a storm that circled around him and he hated himself for having nothing to show for all that brooding and wondering and hoping and wishing, and noticing. He hated how he had not done something with his time, that he was letting his days slip by with no advancement, no achievement beyond his own self gratification. Drink, movie, masturbate and make food. The couch, the balcony for a cigarette, his bedroom. The work he had to do sent away and the obligations that weighed his soul down unfettered for glimpses and grasps at fantasy before they ended and it all returned like a stone.

He had spent some time trying to separate used cooking oil from water. Two chicken breasts had spent the previous night and day marinating in spices and some kind of glaze.  The taste and scent of cooking them still lingered, but the oil had bubbled and burnt in the cast iron pan. The used cooking oil he had tried to distill into something that could be burned in a lamp. Heating it to get the water out, straining it, letting it separate, freezing it. He wanted something flammable to feel like he had done some kind of science, even going so far as to read online about the qualities of water and oil. But, it never got to that point and in his failure let the opaque brown fluid sit in a jam jar on the shelf over the kitchen sink.

The detail in which he went about this was only the minutia of someone very alone. Someone who was pining for something but afraid or too lazy to do it. He was fed up with the games that people play. Primitive games. But…Nothing deeper now welled within him, he was not at a loss, not regretful, just alive and between sleep and a living dream. Regret could wait for when time was no longer on his side, even as he lived the life of an old man, he was young and voices telling him to get out and enjoy life all sounded tired and played out, predictable and overplayed. What good were other people when their words and actions and emotions and thoughts were so easy to decipher.

Perhaps it was just him. He presently thought, that the reason the world seems so predictable, suffering through what he already knew or thought he knew was because of his own actions and trust and games that he played with the world. Perhaps that was why he was so alone.  Perhaps it was all a big game played on him or he was playing the game with himself. It was so easy to break the 4th wall of his life, and the shuddering waves of reality surrounded him quite suddenly and the brick walls of the building, the parkinglot and the night sky and the passage of time became quite real and yet surreal in their appearance.

He turned his back to the clear stars and looked down at his last puff of cigarette, and then focused on his robe and scarf and then on the concrete floor of the balcony, the ashes tumbled away from him in the cold wind, ashes like days of his life, ashes from his once full cigarette.

He leaned back against the balcony railing.

He tilted his head back and felt his chest rub against the inside of his sweatshirt. He took the last puff. The music repeated itself over and over from within, it was sweet and beautiful and the feelings of that last movie lingered on him like the breath of nicotine and the fullness of his stomach and the scent of oil and the haze of gin.

The dizzy spell continued then, overcoming all the previous sensations and the railing pressed into his back. He felt like he was flying.

Then it ended. He flicked the butt behind his back and over the side. Stumbled forward and re-entered his apartment finding that the TV was too loud for 2AM.

Burden

There once was a man who overthought life so much, he could never think beyond it. He couldn’t get the thoughts out of his head; the demons only swirled endlessly about him. He wanted all of his stories to feel real, but the journey began as an escape. To think that the sky might be a scoop of blue ice cream or that the moon might be an underdone pancake would be impossible for him. It would only deviate from finding the truth. His solemn goal and duty to figure it all out; to think his way to the understanding of it all. A burden he laid on his own shoulders. A great and untenable task. That made him bitter with no time for nonsense.

 

For he was lost like all men, looking to find something on his own, to be able to be certain of something for himself. To validate the years of thinking. Once he sold his soul on Acid. He wanted to know how to read minds or move things with his, and it is all already possible if you look at it the right way. It’s all significant, he thought. Life’s answers must be contained within all things. Each blade of grass, the caress of the wind, in the smiles and sadness, in the spider in the shed, or the unseen death of a trampled millipede. Every detail of life holds all meaning. Each moment, each breath, a clue that would bring him closer to learning it all.

 

Why?

 

The answers would save everyone. All war, all strife, all disease, all pain, misery, and joy, laughter, love, sex, birth, and death, would have a framework rooted in the experience of the world rather than by myth, or hearsay, or someone else’s contribution. The depth of things, the detail would be all in what is touched and felt and seen. It would give each of us hope that one person could figure it out and hold it all in their hands without the need for the validation of others.

 

And yet, validation is all he craves, not from cajoling or convincing, but by the merits of his own thoughts, with the only credential that he was alive, and thought each day of his life to find something important, something significant. And so his life became a pitch to others of his breakthroughs and his intellect.  He did not realize the maddening nature of his quest or the enormity of what was thrust upon him. He stayed true to it though. He stayed true to it.

 

In a house on a hill lives a man. His name is Delweather. He lives alone.

Broken Tombs in the Wind

Broken Tombs in the wind,

Whistle with loves and lives,

And Voices in the snow.

Winter is deep and it loves in strange ways;

Not in the least,

For the living as the dead,

Embraced in its cold earth.

The hidden gates and the abandoned ball,

Succoring the universe as they succored from it for those years lamenting

in the wisdom that they would be here ever since their lives took shape.

Seldom kept in their minds as much in their hearts of life but ever on,

What the dead do is not Known, and Eternity…

 

[∴Can winter be over now?]

True Plot

The weary old man looked over the city and knew that his time was soon to come. It was not an illness, yet it was not wholly unexpected in his line of work, and the way the cards fell, he knew as sure as cancer that death was coming to him soon. Still, it was a nice day. He looked over to the wharf beyond the stinking docks where Crabtown whithered. The bend in the shore was sandy dwindling to the rise of a great cliff face where a rock formation jutted to a point where green and brown mingled amid the placid blue waters. It was a poor day for sailing, but a brilliant day for seeing, the ocean’s light blue sibling above was touched by thin brushstrokes of cloud that ambled under a crisp, sharply outlined sun.  The blue ocean waters stretched out to the horizon where the outlines of sails languished to one side and to the other the green fields beyond the walls of his home.

The Warf his gaze fell over was little more than a fisherman’s dock, too far to make out anything truly specific, but each moment he lingered over it, he felt like he knew it better.  The wharf was situated between the walls of the smoking city and the cliffs on the farther crescent edge of the sandy shore. Its minimal form must be only a few meters into the water, and the small connected warehouse had something shimmering hanging outside next to the small square window of the structure. He supposed it was probably fish hung out to dry. Following the bare pinpricks of white stones from the wharf, only little bit further inland was the modest cabin that he supposed the fisherman and his family might live in. Puffs of white smoke drifted away from it out of the stone chimbly. The outline of a porch could be seen facing the dock and warehouse.

He had watched this particular place all his life and just realized how he was now able to see so much in it. That tiny structure on the distant shore resolving into details perhaps no other living creature in the city had considered so delicately.  He had stood on this same palace vista and looked down over the world in his moments of brief reprieve and suffering and machination so many times throughout his life. He wondered how many times he had looked over that modest life below. It felt dear to him and yet he had never been there. Through plans and propositions that clouded his memory like a black miasma, it always remained. There was never truly a beginning and it was this blackness that he knew would always have consumed him in the end.

He thought now of the life the fisherman in that tiny house lived, simple and free from the burdens he had strived to face his whole life. Free from the tangled web that connected the city and the greater world that so entangles all who meddle in the affairs of other like beings. The fisherman has a clear task and each day he battles the elements and performs a duty that did not require the sacrifice of all morality. It was a duty with a clear end and a clear purpose. Sitting on his porch in the afternoon sun and smoking a pipe, looking over his children, and his boat bobbing before a rippling sea that shone with the colors of the sunset heavens.

His life was all stone walls, papers, stench, and smoke. It was what lies to call out and which ones to let fester in themselves. It was preparation, paranoia, and the devious mind of fellow humans he battled with each day. Grand ideals, and pragmatic logistics, codes and passwords and hatred, and just so many lies. The worst of all, the smile, the pat on the back, the joke and laugh, charm to be guarded against the devious plots. He wondered how many people he had killed, how many he had saved if the child in the sewer was glad to have his life rather than give it up for the honorable noble who fell before his true greatness.

Memory is short. Charm, youth, and gold are forever adored. Such quandaries returned to him in that barrage of miasma that approached. The door opened behind him. What could he have done differently? How did Lisidious gain the favor of so many he had helped?  How much blood needs be spilled before its over? Before the truth is seen by all and the issues are done and the plans are not needed and the love of revenge fades?

There was no sound of footsteps. Only the plunging of the blade into his back.

It would never be over. It never began. It always was.

The old man did not turn, but as he fell he looked over to the wharf and longed for that peace.

He touched it. Then died.

The glass.

And each man looked into the glass and saw something different and it strove fear into their hearts and perplexed them, not because of what they saw but because each saw something that could not be explained or understood.

Degenerates

Huddled in some back alley behind the apartments along the river, a spot where you can see the factory, a chick with long earrings and a black blazer adorned with badges sits on the dumpster in divine LSD commune. A not-yet-adult leans against the wall with his foot on a pile of cinderblocks. He smokes a cigarette in the breath of nicotine fire that stains his army jacket with the day’s angry thoughts. We make a net of choices just to trap the demon inside. Another chick in a stained cut-off white tee that offers no brand but the universal “Fuck You” sits under the window and reaches up over her black mascara and silky black mohawk to grab the bottle from the kid laying in the room portal above her. It’s filled with the entry-level numbing agent the girl needs and the kid only feels. Trapped among concreate rulers and united by casual jadedness. They live by the deep hope that they might find what everyone else has been missing in that back alley looking at the factory where an industrial age suffocates in iron oxides like so many hopes and dreams of enlightenment.

Waiting for the day they give everyone hatchets and rifles. Waiting for the war that will change everything. Waiting for time to pass. Wating with their netted demons for the time they can be set loose; when the world can be theirs. Waiting for their lives to happen. Waiting for the drug to free them. Waiting for the arguments to stop. Waiting for the monster of Love. Wanting it all and dying of anger. Capable and dangerous.

Meditating on the sensation of it.